Amazon makes first investments in outdoors VC companies, places $150M to underrepresented founders – GeekWire

Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. (GeekWire Photograph)

Amazon introduced a brand new diversity-related initiative known as Amazon Catalytic Capital that may present funding to underrepresented entrepreneurs.

The $150 million program represents the primary time Amazon is placing cash behind outdoors enterprise capital companies, Reuters reported. The funding will assist greater than 10 funds and greater than 200 startups over the following 12 months. Amazon will present entry to executives and workers along with money.

“We need to be sure that these firms and their founders have the identical entry to capital as anybody else,” Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vp of worldwide company improvement, mentioned in a press release.

A few of the funds receiving cash from Amazon embody Collide Capital; Elevate Future Fund; Share Ventures; and Techstars Rising Stars Fund.

This system builds on Amazon’s different latest range initiatives together with AWS Affect Accelerator, which backs startups led by underrepresented founders, and its $150 million Black Enterprise Accelerator unveiled final 12 months.

Amazon has confronted allegations of racial discrimination lately, each at the company stage and at warehouses. Workers filed a number of lawsuits final 12 months, alleging that the corporate systematically bypasses minority teams for promotion in favor of white workers. 

Amazon has proven some progress in rising the variety of underrepresented workers in company positions. In keeping with the corporate’s most up-to-date knowledge as of Dec. 31, the share of girls in company worker roles (Stage 4 – Stage 7) grew from 31.4% in 2020 to 32.7% in 2021. The share of Black and Latinx workers grew from 7.2% and seven.5% to eight.5% and eight.7%, respectively.

Management positions (Stage 8) throughout the firm are much less numerous, with ladies exec leaders making up 24%, a rise of twenty-two.8% the 12 months prior. Black execs leaders make up 5.5% of senior leaders and 4.5% for Latino senior leaders, up from 3.8% and three.9% within the prior 12 months.

Alicia Boler-Davis and Dave Bozeman, prime Black leaders at Amazon who helped oversee the corporate’s e-commerce operations, departed earlier this 12 months.

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